Just in time for the summer pool season, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released its annual childhood drowning report on Thursday, and this year, the focus of its campaign will be to advocate for increased swimming education for Blacks and Hispanics, reports the Associated Press.
Blacks and Hispanic children are at an increased risk for drowning compared to Caucasians. The deaths and injury statistics associated with pools, hot tubs, and spas that involve Black and Hispanic children are unnerving: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black children between the ages of 5 and 14 are three times more likely to drown than White children of the same age range.
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The USA Swimming Foundation, the organization responsible for selecting and training teams for international competitions including the Olympic Games, found that a whopping 70 percent of Black and Hispanic children cannot swim, which is nearly twice as many as their Caucasian counterparts. In addition, in ethnically diverse communities, the youth-drowning rate is more than double the national average.
Safety commission chairman Inez Tenenbaum told the Associated Press, “There’s no question that not knowing how to swim contributes to the deaths of minority children who drown in pools and in natural bodies of water such as lakes, streams or the ocean. We are focusing on minority children because the data shows that they are most at risk for drowning,” she said in a telephone interview.
Tenenbaum went on to point out the probable main reason why our kids are not swimming, “It’s a cultural issue, because many of the African-American and Hispanic children have parents and grandparents who never learned to swim.”
Michelle Obama’s focuses on swimming in her “Let’s Move!” fitness campaign, which looks to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation. Tenenbaum is urging all parents who don’t know how to swim, to learn, and then to make the sport a fun activity that all members of their family can participate in and enjoy.